The next time you ask your smart device to look up a phone number, you may fall into the trap of a fraudster.
That’s the warning from the Better Business Bureau after it received reports from victims who unwittingly stumbled into the scam.
“The scam has the propensity to become a very big problem, very quickly because of consumers’ gravitation and use of technology,” Karla Davis of the Better Business Bureau said.
Here’s how the scam works. Users ask their smart device, such as Google, Siri, or Alexa, to automatically dial the number of a business. Instead of connecting to a legitimate company representative, the call connects to a scam artist.
That fraudster may insist you pay for transactions via wire transfer, prepaid debit cards or gift cards — all red flags.
“Once you make any transactions utilizing those payment methods, the money is pretty much gone,” Davis said.
Scammers get away with this scheme by creating fake customer service numbers and placing them at the top of search results. Unfortunately, smart devices cannot tell the difference between a fake phone number and one belonging to a legitimate business.
“Scammers have taken advantage of technology,” Davis said. “They are bumping up their fake ads on search engines so their numbers are likely to get more of a response.”
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The BBB says the best defence is to do things the old-fashioned way.
“Take the extra time — instead of voice dialing, find the number yourself,” Davis said.
So far, the BBB has not received reports from victims to this scam in B.C. or Canada, but says it could be just a matter of time.